The ‘quiet quitting’ trend has exploded in the wake of the global pandemic – rapidly emerging as one of the loudest talking points for employers.
Having weathered ‘the Great Resignation’, which affected 85% of senior decision-makers at UK businesses (Barnett Waddingham, 2021), companies then experienced the demand for more flexibility – including the ability to work from home.
Now, ‘quiet quitting’ is hitting the headlines – having amassed more than 4.6m views on TikTok, where a large online community of workers have shared their experiences of doing the bare minimum required.
Research suggests young people have seen the biggest dip in motivation because of the pandemic. Of those surveyed by payroll and benefits platform Employment Hero, some 51% said that Covid-19 had decreased the importance they place on their career. Less than half thought their work-life balance was ‘good’, whilst almost two-thirds of workers reported having recently experienced burnout.
Findings like these beg the question: Is the dissatisfaction Gen Z employees are feeling with their working lives manifesting as ‘quiet quitting’?
Back in the day, ‘quiet quitting’ would have been termed ‘work to rule’. It is the concept of no longer going above and beyond – working through breaks or working late; instead, doing only what your job description requires of you – and nothing more. This may include only clocking in and out at contractual times, and taking your full break allowance.
So, does this trend reflect a failure to inspire and motivate people; a demand for a better work-life balance; or is it a way for employees to rail against companies that want their staff to put all the effort in for nothing in return (other than a salary)?
Those practising ‘quiet quitting’ say that they’re simply setting healthy boundaries and preventing burnout, but for some it is more about not accepting additional work without additional pay.
However, workers engaging in this trend must also be aware of the long-term damage this could do to their career prospects. There are multiple dangers that Jill Cotton, Career Trends Expert at Glassdoor, raised in the Daily Mail of using ‘quiet quitting’ as a strategy – including employees stagnating whilst their peers move on, making it trickier to find another job or be promoted.
Charlotte Davies, Career Expert at LinkedIn, added that the ‘quiet quitting’ trend is a short-term fix and doesn’t address the bigger issue of striking the right balance between priorities at work and life: ‘Having an open and transparent conversation with your manager is the best way to address this so you can set clear boundaries and better ways of working, however, if the conversation isn’t productive perhaps it’s not the right role for you and it’s time to look for something new’.
With productivity at the forefront of the minds of many business owners, especially in this time of financial pressures and staff shortages in many sectors across the economy, this ‘quiet quitting’ trend sounds like the stuff of nightmares… but it doesn’t have to be.
Ultimately, ‘quiet quitting’ is about employees wanting to be rewarded for putting in extra effort (these days, salary is not enough of a motivator for employees to fully engage in their work).
Disengaged people who don’t feel like they have a sense of purpose or connection with their colleagues – and the business they work for – are less likely to go above and beyond. Those employees who enjoy their work will always put in more effort and time because they get a buzz from achieving and being part of a bigger vision.
Companies need to figure out how to build these crucial elements into their employment offering before the ‘quiet quitting’ revolution leads to permanent – and terminal – silence.